Today we were gifted by the weather gods. The zero visibility fog and the light drizzle had dissipated by the time we picked up our last passengers in Alder Bay. From that moment on, the clouds cleared, the sun enveloped us, and the seas remained quietly calm.
Again it was at low tide, and we initially searched for Black Bears, watching keenly along the beaches. Although one was not sighted, numerous Bald Eagles were seen sitting on the shores where they appeared to be much larger than those seen in the trees.
We explored nearby islands and were astounded by the abundance of eagles that had taken up residence on at least three of the islets. We counted over 60 adults and juveniles, some in flight but most were standing like guardians looking over their ocean domain. The sea was so calm it made easy our encounter with surfacing Dall’s Porpoises and two Stellar sea lions who foraged in the same vicinity.
After seeing a Humpback whale blow in the distance, we investigated. This foraging whale did the occasional deep dive, bringing its fluke high to the sky. While observing this mighty whale, a radio call from another vessel informed us of the feeding behaviour of another Humpback whale in a different vicinity, and we headed in their direction.
For nearly an hour we watched a single Humpback whale lunge feed and at times linger to trap feed on a ball of schooling fish. At times different whale anatomy came out of the water – first a fluke, then a pectoral fin and finally, most surprisingly the large head with the jaw wide open. We were mesmerised. At one stage we could actually see inside the whale’s mouth. Rhinoceros Auklets waited on the surface alongside the whale, hoping to pick up left-overs floating by.
It was a stunning look into the wilds of nature and how privileged were we to witness to it all!
A mirrored sea and beautiful sunshine created a smooth and comfortable ride out to the groups of islands that make up this stunning area.
After picking up our guests in Alder Bay, we cruised along the low tide shoreline in the hope of seeing a Black bear foraging on the small organisms that live under seaweed covered rocks. We were astonished when we came across a mother with two cubs. As we watched, mum carried on foraging unperturbed while the cubs scurried further up the beach and watched us from afar.
We continued our journey through narrow channels where Harbour seals lazed on rocks exposed by the low tide. We stopped at an occupied Bald eagles nest and waited patiently for the Eaglet to raise its head, and it did for all of us to clearly see!
We were delighted to encounter a pair of Humpback whales, one much smaller than the other and soon identified them as Ripple and her calf. They foraged side by side, swimming in large circles and surfacing regularly. Suddenly, at least five Bald eagles arrived to feed on a bait ball of small schooling fish, and the Humpbacks soon joined them. How fabulous it was to see the enormous head and jaw of a whale rising from the sea, and the occasional long dangly pectoral fin appear as they feasted on the small schooling fish.
How grateful we were having witnessed such a sight and happy to know that today, the animals were well nourished.
The sky was completely blue with not a single cloud in it, and the ocean was like glass. Everything glistened today. The bull kelp, heads of Harbour seals and the backs of Porpoises and Humpbacks sparkled like diamonds as their water-soaked backs came up to the surface.
At the beginning of our tour, it was slack tide which meant the water lacked current and was still. This enabled us to get close to reefs and islands to look more intimately along the shore. From this vantage point, we viewed Bald Eagles which were delicately balanced on tops of trees and observed a young Eaglet in one of the nests. We have the privilege of spending the summer watching this little one grow.
We came across a mother Humpback and her calf. As the two of them surfaced side by side, we could see that one was so much smaller than the other. We saw the stunning display of a full breach as the smaller Humpback rose clear from the water and landed with a huge splash. It was an astonishing sight to see! As they swam slowly but steadily in all directions we watched and listened and with our engines turned off their breath could easily be heard.
Today felt like the first day of summer and how grateful we all were to be on the water witnessing all the sunshine and beauty.
Blue sky and the glistening sun kept us company for the entire tour, even though a fog bank out to the North threatened to envelop us.
As we departed Alder Bay we stuck close to the shore where the low tide was fully exposed. Only minutes into our tour we observed a single Black bear foraging close to the edge of the water, turning over rocks and eating tasty crustaceans.
We journeyed East down Johnstone Strait and watched a pod of Dall’s porpoise travelling in the glassy calm water. We drifted silently in the ebb tide between narrow passageways, stopping to gaze up at treetops where Eagles perched.
We soon came upon foraging Humpbacks that bucked current, diving shallow numerous times, then descending deep, their tail flukes lifting high towards the sky. We were able to identify one individual as Guardian which thrilled out guests who were then able to put a name to the photos they had taken.
Kelp forests glistened in the sun as well as the Harbour Seal heads that rose to the surface nearby the rocks and reefs we cruised by. We paused to watch a Black-tailed Deer observing us from a rocky shoreline; a surprise encounter like that of the Black Bear we had seen early in the tour.
It was a fabulous summers day on the water with so many more to come.
We experienced a break in the rain during our afternoon tour today; sunlight, patchy clouds and calm seas welcomed us.
We had a guest join us who had lived in Alert Bay in the early 70’s. It was exciting for us all to be touring around his old stomping ground which included Orcalab on Hanson Island.
It was in this area where all the wildlife came out to play. At least five Humpbacks foraged just off the lab in Blackfish Sound, Dall’s porpoise appeared on the glassy surface of the sea, and a vigorous Stellar Sea Lion slapped a salmon about, it was held securely in the sea lions jaws. Rhinoceros Auklets foraged as well; up they would pop from a dive with a small silver fish in its beak which glistened in the afternoon sun.
A beautiful day with delightful people and stunning wildlife and scenery. Thank you Northern Vancouver Island.
Rain and wind did not keep us away from heading out on an afternoon tour to experience this stunning and picturesque area. The dramatic weather enhanced the beauty that surrounded us. Misty clouds whisked through the trees on the mountainsides, wind waves crashed over reefs and soaked the Harbour seals who lazed in the overcast conditions.
We travelled through protected passageways where wind could not touch us, and the calm, tranquil water gave us the chance to photograph numerous Eagles who dried their soggy winds in the South Easterly breeze. Innumerable Humpbacks, Stellar Sea lions and Harbour seals foraged in Weynton Passage where the strong flood current stirred up the nutrients from the sea floor. An added surprise to the tour was the sighting of a Minke Whale on the way home!
Our guests on board MV Seasmoke were delighted to be sheltered from the rain by our boat canopy but still intimate with nature being on a small boat nice and close to the water. At one with Nature, we were once again.
The sun welcomed us out on the water today, as did the calm sea conditions. We departed with our sights set on exploring the small islands and picturesque passages, leading us to the foraging grounds of the Humpback Whales.
With literally no wind, we were able to search the horizon for whale blows, and it did not take long for us to suddenly see the three-meter whale breath lingering in the still air as a Humpback surfaced just ahead of us.
A mum and calf passed our motionless vessel, giving our guests the opportunity to hear the powerful breath and witness the large marine mammals surfacing as it travelled and foraged.
Dall’s porpoise, Stellar Sea lions, Harbour Seal and numerous eagles were the feature sightings of the day. The clear visibility in the ocean enabled us to see Bull kelp stipes leading all the way to the ocean floor which mesmerised our guests.
We are happy to be back on the water and look forward to the many tours to come.